Squirrels are very clever and resourceful creatures. They can be huge pests, not only to any bird feeders that you might have in your garden, but also to those precious bulbs you wait all season to flower.
There’s nothing worse than waiting impatiently for your bulbs to sprout, excited about your new garden planting ideas, waiting to see how it will turn out, and finding that some or all of them have been dug up or even eaten.
Squirrels are very good at improvising, and combining that with their agility, they are very tricky animals to keep out of your garden. They can get into nearly anything.
They’ve been known to make short work of tulip and crocus bulbs especially, as these are a tasty snack for a squirrel.
You might find holes in all of your flower beds, the bird feeder empty, or even missing fruit or vegetables from your plants which you know you haven’t taken yourself.
They can cause some chaos in your garden, to put it mildly.
If you have squirrels, or a neighboring property does, you can limit the damage, and in some cases, prevent it altogether. Keep reading to discover how.
Do Squirrels Eat Flowers?
Yes, they can. While they are famous for unearthing flower bulbs and eating those, they can also eat flowers, or the tender shoots of the very young growth sprouting from bulbs.
Fortunately, there are some plants that squirrels will avoid eating. At first, they may dig them up to see if they could be a nice snack, but they will leave them alone pretty quickly once they know what it is.
Some smells, tastes, or textures of a plant will put them off completely. Some of which, they won’t even go near.
We’ve compiled a list of the plants that squirrels don’t like, as well as plants that actively repel these mischievous little guys.
These plants will not only provide a lot of color and beauty to your garden, but the squirrels won’t touch them. Some plants on this list will also provide protection to the more vulnerable flowers.
While daffodils are beautiful in their own right and reliably flower year after year, squirrels also hate the taste of them.
This dislike is so strong that planting daffodils near other bulbs can even deter squirrels from eating those, too.
It’s worth planting daffodils throughout your garden to protect those bulbs that they will eat.
Daffodils don’t take up a lot of space, and they only flower for a season before dying back, making room for other plants, so you shouldn’t have any problems when it comes to space.
Daffodils also have the benefit of being fairly hardy perennials.
From zones 5 and up, they will thrive in most conditions, and can come in all sorts of forms, appearing in shades of yellow, white, and orange, or a combination of these.
While most daffodils are known for being the heralds of spring, flowering when the weather gets warmer after winter, you do get autumn flowering varieties as well.
Planting a mixture will help protect your garden from squirrels during these seasons, but you’ll need plants that will also do this job in the months that daffodils don’t flower.
As well as being plants that slugs and snails religiously avoid, alliums also repel squirrels.
Alliums are a fantastic companion plant option to plants which are vulnerable to slugs and squirrels. Hostas are a favorite of both snails and squirrels, so planting alliums near hostas will give them some protection.
While we can only smell a faint whiff of onions when the leaves or the stems of an allium are damaged, garden pests such as squirrels or snails can smell them all the time.
The smell is strong enough that the squirrels will nearly always steer clear of the beds alliums are planted in, so you can plant them next to bulbs or plants which squirrels actively want to eat, and the squirrels will give them a wide berth.
Most types of allium come back year after year, so long as you live in a hardiness zone of 3 or above. You can also use them as dried flowers once the heads have gone to seed, and dried out on the stems.
While alliums make great cut flowers, it’s not recommended cutting a bunch of them when they are in flower while you’re trying to deter squirrels.
This will make the alliums redundant, and their repelling powers will be much less effective than if you left the heads to go to seed.
They can also be grown as annual plants, but you’ll need to replant them each season to get more of them.
Alliums feature tall, thin stems, and it’s on the very top of these stems that the flowers form. They are star-shaped, and usually form in globular clusters, but the size will depend on the variety.
You can get these flowers in white, red, pink, crimson, and purple.
Unlike alliums and daffodils, which might be able to protect more vulnerable plants from squirrels, the bleeding heart (see also Bleeding Heart Flower Meaning and Symbolism) can’t protect its neighbors. It can, however, protect itself.
To the squirrels and other potential pests, the foliage and flowers of the bleeding heart are not appealing. They don’t taste nearly as nice as grass, weeds, or the new shoots forming on bulbs.
Bleeding hearts also have the benefit of being very beautiful. They add a unique and tropical theme to any planting scheme, and attract a range of pollinators into your garden.
They are also perennial in zones 3 to 9. The blooms themselves can be white, pink, pink and white, red, red and white, or even yellow.
Irises have a decent amount of resistance to squirrels, but you can bolster this with a combination of unappealing options like alliums, daffodils, and fritillaries.
Squirrels will only go after irises when there’s no better option, and when they are very hungry. They don’t taste awful to squirrels, but they aren’t the first option a squirrel will go for.
The foliage especially is unappealing to squirrels and other pesky animals.
If you live in a hardiness zone between 3 and 9, irises will be perennials, where these gorgeous flowers will come back year after year.
You can get irises in a range of forms, and the color possibilities are very nearly endless.
Fritillary flowers are noted for their unusual appearance, and it’s only recently that they’ve had an uptick in popularity.
These blooms also have the benefit of deterring squirrels from your garden altogether. They produce a strong fragrance which squirrels don’t like at all.
You can get many types of fritillaries which range in form. Some resemble tulips, like Fritillaria meleagris, the snake head fritillary, or you can get very tall types like Fritillaria lutea, the crown imperial.
Plant whichever kind you prefer in your flower beds, and enjoy the benefits of a dramatic display, as well as knowing that your flowers and bulbs are safe from squirrels.
Most fritillaries are perennials, so long as you live in a zone between 5 and 9, though you can grow them as annual plants if this isn’t the case.
Most fritillaries are bell-shaped which point towards the earth, and come in a variety of colors, such as yellow, yellowy green, red, maroon, orange, purple, and near-black.
Ah, snowdrops. Not only are galanthus flowers, or snowdrops fuss-free plants that barely need any attention from you, but they also repel squirrels with their scent.
These petite plants will also help prevent squirrels from unearthing the surrounding bulbs, as the smell is that pungent to them. Luckily, we can’t smell them the way the squirrels do.
There are quite a few varieties of galanthus, and all of them are just as effective at putting squirrels off from visiting your garden beds. Most types are perennials in zones 3 through to 8.
These flowers also bloom in very early spring, giving your garden some much-needed protection when most of the flowers on this list are still dormant, and bulbs are at their most vulnerable.
While dianthus flowers are fantastic bloomers in their own right, they also help deter squirrels. Like the iris, squirrels will only go after dianthus if there is nothing better, when they are very hungry.
The flowers are also scented, but the smell isn’t very appealing to squirrels. It doesn’t help repel them, either. For the most part, dianthus flowers will remain untouched.
However, if a squirrel doesn’t have a better option and they are very desperate, your dianthus might be one of the first squirrel-resistant blooms to be on the menu.
Most dianthus are perennial plants, though you can get them as biennials, and you can treat them as annuals, too.
They thrive best in zones 3 through to 9. Dianthus flowers themselves are usually found in white, or pink, or a combination, and the range of pinks can be anything from a baby pink to a deep crimson.
While goldenrod is a wildflower, you can also plant it in your garden as a barrier and even a screen. If you plant it near the more vulnerable plants, this will help prevent squirrels from terrorizing your plants.
Goldenrod is a perennial in zones 4 through to 9, and comes from North America. It also has the advantage of producing glorious gold flowers, which attracts lots of beneficial insects into your garden, and this can improve the overall health of your plants.
While it is often blamed for setting off hayfever allergies, this is usually caused by ragweed, which blooms at the same time.
Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley blooms are fantastically scented, and grow well in shady positions. They are also fairly resistant to squirrels and other pests, as squirrels find the smell unpleasant.
These lovely flowers can also help ward off pests from even visiting your garden, as these pests can smell them from a fair distance.
The foliage also makes for an unappealing snack, as the leaves that do grow are large and thick.
It also helps that the lily of the valley is a very easy plant to grow, and they are perennials in zones 3 to 7.
They usually produce white blooms, but you can get them in pink, too. These flowers do have a tendency to carpet shady areas, so you will need to keep an eye on them if this is something you don’t want.
How to Deter Squirrels from Your Garden
Squirrels are famously clever creatures that will outsmart a lot of attempts to thwart them. You can see this mainly in some “squirrel-proof” bird feeders, as enterprising squirrels have worked out how to bypass them!
The best way to prevent squirrels from becoming a real nuisance to your garden is to plant the flowers that they don’t like all around your garden.
These plants will help protect and even hide the plants that they would like to munch on.
But you don’t have to stop at that. There are some things that you can do to help make your garden as unattractive as possible.
Don’t Leave Any Food Lying Around
This one might seem obvious, as food can attract all sorts of unpleasant visitors onto your property, but it needs saying. Don’t leave food out!
While squirrels can travel for ages looking for food, they are likely to stay somewhere that food is easy to find. This includes vegetable gardens, or leaving your trash out or the bin lids off.
To help prevent squirrels from calling your property home, keep all trash sealed. In terms of vegetable or fruiting plants, religiously harvesting them as soon as they are ripe will make a significant difference.
This seems rather opposite to the last piece of advice, doesn’t it? Well, a well-fed squirrel is obviously not a desperate squirrel.
Feeding them can actually prevent them from turning to your flowers or bulbs for their meals.
While they will often save things for later, they won’t choose flowers or bulbs if they have nuts and fruit on offer.
Of course, this is only a viable option if you don’t have a lot of squirrels, or this could get expensive fairly quickly.
Squirrels will also go for crops such as tomatoes and cucumbers, and you can deter this by growing them in greenhouses or even home-made cold frames. This will also increase the health and yield of your crops!
While squirrels are very intelligent animals, some people have had some success with keeping them out with physical barriers.
While they won’t be the fix-all solution, a combination of the above plants and a barrier will mean that squirrels will pick gardens that are easier targets than yours. They will always go for an easier option.
Most animals won’t bother if something is too much effort. Pigeons are the same – if you plant tasty crops in between ornamental plants that can act as a screen, these birds will instead target crops that are planted on their own.
Some defenses you can put up include narrow fencing, chicken wire cages, and netting. When you’re setting up your squirrel-proofing barriers, it’s important to remember that squirrels can leap both horizontally and vertically, covering a surprising distance.
In most cases, you’ll need this enclosure to go all the way around.
Squirrels are also very good at chewing through thin netting, and they can squeeze in small gaps. If in doubt, go for netting that’s made specifically for keeping squirrels out.
Having a combination of some or all of these options will help keep your garden pest-free as much as possible, allowing you to plant your gorgeous flowers without fear of sabotage or decimation.